What to Eat after a Workout
Achieving your fitness goals doesn’t end in the gym—choosing the right foods after exercising helps your body recover quickly and aids muscle growth.1 Learn what post-workout snacks and meals help support your workouts and help with exercise recovery.
What Happens during a Workout?
When you work out, whether lifting weights or running laps, your muscles use glycogen energy stores.2 Muscle fibers and proteins also get stressed or temporarily damaged, especially during strength training exercise. Proper rest and nutrition help rebuild your glycogen stores and repair muscle tissue.2
Eating after Working Out
The types of food you should eat after a workout depend on the intensity and duration of your exercise.1 After endurance exercises like running or cycling for more than an hour, meals high in carbohydrates are beneficial, while proteins are helpful after strength training exercises like lifting weights.3
And know that there’s no need to shy away from eating healthy fats after a workout, as they can also be beneficial to your body.2
Do consume water before, during and after your workouts.1, 2 Before and during your exercise, drinking water may make your workout feel easier.2 It’s also critical to helping your body recover from activity.
Not only does drinking water replace the liquid that you lose from sweating, but it also replenishes electrolytes.2 Drinking hydrating fluids can help with transporting nutrients to your cells and clearing waste out of the body after a workout.2
Incorporate these protein-rich foods into your next post-workout meal.
Exercise burns carbohydrates, the main fuel for your muscles.2 Your body breaks down carbohydrates into glucose, or blood sugar, to use as energy.2 Eating plenty of carbohydrates fuels your body and helps it recover from activity.
Complex carbohydrates found in fruits, veggies and grains contain important vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Try these complex carbohydrates-rich foods in your post-workout diet.2
- Brown rice
- Whole-grain pasta
- Whole-wheat bread and cereal
- Sweet potatoes
- Dairy, like milk or yogurt
Dietary fiber is an important type of carbohydrate that adds bulk to your diet and aids digestion. Include foods with dietary fiber into your post-workout meals, like whole grains, nuts and seeds, and fruits and vegetables.4
When to Eat
If you’re exercising for less than 60 minutes at the beginning of the day, it’s okay to exercise on an empty stomach.1 Otherwise, you should eat beforehand. Consuming complex carbohydrates about two-to-four hours before exercising helps give you energy to sustain your workout.2
Eating and drinking after a workout is an important part of your body’s recovery--and helps you avoid fatigue or irritability.3 Try to eat a snack within 45 minutes and two hours post workout.1, 2 Ideally, eating within 30 to 60 minutes provides the most benefits for muscle repair.2 Starting the process soon after your exercise session helps lessen muscle soreness and cramping.3
Easy Post-Work Out Foods
Balanced food choices after a workout don’t need to be complicated or boring. Try one of these healthy snacks after the gym.3
- Almonds washed down with a cup of milk
- Greek yogurt with granola and berries
- String cheese and pretzels
- Apple slices and peanut butter
While eating a nutritious snack after working out refuels your body, it’s important to eat healthy throughout the entire day. Incorporate lean protein, complex carbohydrates, and dietary fiber into each of your daily meals.2
More Ways to Incorporate Fiber
If you find it challenging to get fiber from your diet alone, a supplement like Benefiber can help. Clear, taste-free Benefiber Original helps ensure you’re eating enough dietary fiber before or after a workout. Add Benefiber stick packs to any post-workout food or beverage for easy, on-the-go fiber.
Show ReferencesHide References
- Nutrition and athletic performance. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002458.htm. Accessed 4/29/22.
- The Best Ways to Fuel Your Workouts. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/the-best-ways-to-fuel-your-workouts-might-surprise-you/. Accessed 4/29/22.
- Should You Eat Before or After a Workout? https://health.clevelandclinic.org/what-to-eat-before-and-after-a-workout/. Accessed 4/29/22.
- Dietary Fiber. https://medlineplus.gov/dietaryfiber.html. Accessed 4/29/22.